Peyton Manning: 2013 Super Bowl champion.
That's what the Denver Broncos had in mind when they signed the four-time MVP and future Hall of Fame quarterback on March 20, 2012. However, are John Elway and Broncos fans everywhere too optimistic about their new quarterback? How far can he realistically take the Denver Broncos in the 2012-2013 season?
There are many diehard fans who believe Manning is the final piece to the team that could go deep into the playoffs—even to the Super Bowl—this year. There are also skeptics out there, like me, who aren't so sure a Super Bowl is in the picture for 2012-2013.
It's been more than a year since Manning has played an NFL game. After undergoing several neck surgeries to alleviate neck pain and weakness, Manning missed the entire 2011 NFL season. Before signing with Denver, many NFL experts weren't sure Manning would return to his pre-surgery greatness.
Recovering from multiple neck surgeries isn't Manning's only setback—he's also playing in a new uniform for the first time in his 14-year career. Obviously, there will be an adjustment period for Manning and the new offense he will be working with. Broncos fans, both in Mile High Stadium and watching in their living rooms, need to be anticipate a rough first few games. It will take some time for Manning to adjust to a new offense and playbook, as well as other Broncos adjusting to a style of play that differs from Tim Tebow.
However, once Manning and the offense begin playing on the same page, the Denver Broncos could be a dangerous team.
So, is a Super Bowl bid realistic?
Even if Manning recovers fully, is healthy in Week 1 and doesn't miss a single game because of injury, the Broncos will not be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year. A more realistic, and still optimistic, prediction for Manning is winning 10 games and making it to the AFC Championship Game.
Manning is a great, seasoned leader who will make the Broncos a dominant organization, and with a healthy Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos will be one of the best teams in the AFC West, especially with developing talent like Von Miller. Winning 10 games and making it to the AFC Championship Game would not be a disappointment, particularly for a quarterback coming back from missing the entire previous season.